By Matt Soniak
When your stomach growls or gurgles, you usually know what it means. Sometimes, it’s because you’re hungry. Sometimes it’s because you’re digesting a meal. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s because you’re sick. Your dog’s stomach can make plenty of noise, too, but does a dog’s stomach make noises for the same reasons as yours?
Abdominal rumblings (which aren’t always necessarily coming from the stomach, and are often produced in the intestines) are known as borborygmi in medical terminology, and they’re a normal part of life for both dogs and humans. And you may be surprised that in both dogs and humans, these noises have the same causes.
Common Causes of Dog Stomach Noises
During digestion, the gastrointestinal tract breaks down food. That food moves around, the gases that are created by the digestive process move around, and even some of the organs involved in the digesting move a bit. “Most sounds audible to a pet owner are related to gas moving through the intestines,” says Dr. Mark Rondeau, DVM, a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. All of that moving gas creates soft, gurgling borborygmi. Sometimes, digestion can produce louder-than-normal sounds when the process creates a lot of gas or when the gastrointestinal tract suddenly experiences an increase in activity, like when a dog eats after having an empty stomach.
A dog’s stomach will sometimes growl due to hunger, just like yours. Again, the noises are produced by the movement and contractions of the gastrointestinal tract and are usually a little louder than the sounds of digestion, says Rondeau. These hunger rumbles are, of course, most common in the morning before breakfast, a little before dinner, or anytime a dog has gone a while without food.
Ingesting a lot of air, whether while scarfing down food or just breathing heavily, can cause “excessive” stomach noise in dogs (and doggy burps), Rondeau says. If your pup is eating too fast, you can try using a special type of food bowl or other techniques, like putting a large ball or toy in a regular bowl, to slow your dog’s eating.
More Serious Causes of Dog Stomach Noises
While the majority of dog stomach noises are normal and harmless, some stomach noises in dogs can result from—and be a sign of—potentially serious gastrointestinal problems. If a dog gets into the garbage, eats something that doesn’t agree with him, or has his diet changed suddenly, stomach upset—and accompanying gastrointestinal noises—may occur.
More serious problems that can be associated with dog stomach noises include intestinal parasites, swallowing foreign objects, or a gastrointestinal diseases or disorders. In rare cases, excessive stomach noises can be associated with certain endocrine or metabolic disorders.
“Pet owners should mainly be concerned if the noises are associated with other clinical signs,” says Rondeau. These symptoms could include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation (drooling), and lethargy. You should also be on the lookout for signs of abdominal pain, such as a hunched posture.
If these symptoms are persistent, you should consult your veterinarian, says Rondeau.
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